Malecon road, Havana, Cuba

Cuba: La Isla Grande

15 days
from
£1,880
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Traveller ratings
4.5 / 5 from 165 reviews >
Trip code: 
AUB
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–18

A captivating Caribbean journey featuring revolutionary icons, mojitos and salsa!

In 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba he described it as 'the most beautiful land on earth'. Cuba offers a unique cultural experience with its blend of African and Spanish influences, laid-back charm and 50 years of socialism. Experience the dilapidated colonial grandeur of Old Havana, the lively nightlife of Santiago and the restored splendour of Trinidad, whilst taking time out to relax in Baracoa, a lively coastal town surrounded by rainforest and lush cocoa plantations. In the steep, jungle covered mountains of the Sierra Maestra we learn about the island's fascinating revolutionary past.

Highlights

  • Atmospheric Havana, with its faded colonial charm and intoxicating salsa beats
  • Enjoy the colourful World Heritage site of Trinidad, a maze of cobblestone streets and pastel houses
  • Spend two nights in Baracoa, a lively coastal town surrounded by lush rainforest and beaches
  • Cuban Tourist Cards included for all UK residents and package prices are typically based on direct flights with Virgin Atlantic

Key information

  •  11 nights hotels (2 nights in Old Havana) and 3 nights in Casas Particulares
  • Travel by comfortable air-conditioned private coach or minibus
  • Some long journeys

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers
  • Tourist card visa for UK residents

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Havana
to
Havana
  • Day 1

    Start Havana.

    The group flight arrives in the afternoon and we transfer to our hotel in the Miramar district of Havana. Land only clients will meet the group at the start hotel.

    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Visit Old Havana; drive to Sancti Spiritus via Che Guevara's Mausoleum.

    This morning we have a panoramic tour of Old Havana including the Capitolio building and Revolution Square. We then drive to Santa Clara, the site of the last battle of the Cuban Revolution. In December 1958 Che Guevara and his troops ambushed an armoured train carrying arms to Santiago de Cuba and this was a major turning point in the Revolution. We visit the train museum and the Mausoleum of Che Guevara and his comrades who died in Bolivia. The museum attached to the Mausoleum has many of his former belongings and is a fascinating insight into one of the 20th Centuries most revered icons. Our final destination today is Sancti Spiritus where we check into our hotel for the night.

    Today's driving time is approx. 5 hours.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    To colonial town of Bayamo.

    Today is another long driving day as we head to Bayamo in the south of the island. We pass through agricultural towns and sugar cane plantations, learning about the importance of sugar in Cuba’s history. We stop for lunch in Camaguey, Cuba's fourth largest city, to break up the journey.

    Today's driving time is approx. 7 hours.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    To Baracoa; beach stop en route on south coast.

    After breakfast we leave Bayamo and drive east, passing Guantanamo and stopping for a swim on the south coast before continuing to our destination – Baracoa. Founded in 1512, Baracoa was the first Spanish settlement in Cuba and served as the capital for three years. It's location on the easternmost tip of the island left it open to attacks from pirates, smugglers and the English, so three forts were constructed in the 18th Century for protection. Baracoa's has only been accessible by road since the 1960s and this has left it largely off the tourist route. Surrounding the quaint town are lush, tropical mountains and golden sand beaches. This area is renowned for cocoa growing and chocolate production. The Malecon on the northeast side of the town is known as the Caribbean's first ocean drive. There is still a strong Indian influence here and the El Yunque Mountain, (the anvil shaped mountain described by Christopher Columbus in his diaries) used to be the site of various aboriginal communities. We arrive in the late afternoon and spend some time exploring before checking into our hotel.

    Today's driving time is approx. 7 hours.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Boat trip and walk through a cocoa plantation.

    This morning we take a boat trip on the River Toa followed by a walk through a Biosphere Reserve to learn about the importance of cocoa production in the area. The afternoon is free to explore the town of Baracoa or visit the beach. 

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    To Santiago de Cuba.

    After breakfast we depart Baracoa for Santiago de Cuba, which is known as the ‘city of heroes’ for the important role it played in Independence and Revolutionary struggles. Santiago rivals Havana in literature, music and politics, and is rich in traditions, folklore and legends making almost every street corner in the city famous.

    Today's driving time is approx. 5 hours.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Explore Santiago; visit El Morro Castle and Moncada Barracks.

    This morning we explore Santiago de Cuba, visiting the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, where Fidel Castro is buried. Then Revolution Square, El Morro Castle and Moncada Barracks - where the opening shots of the Revolution were fired on 26 July 1953, when Castro and his men attacked the barracks. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city yourself.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To the Sierra Maestra mountains.

    Leaving the city behind we drive towards the green mountains of the Sierra Maestra, stopping to visit El Cobre, the most sacred pilgrimage site in Cuba. Our first choice is to stay in a hotel in the Sierra Maestra, however due to the popularity of the area we may stay in Bayamo, a charming colonial city with a recently renovated boulevard where the locals love to congregate in the evenings.

    Today's driving time is approx. 5 hours.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Walk to Castro's revolutionary headquarters; to Camaguey.

    We spend this morning in the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, a spectacular national park within Cuba's highest mountain range. This region is well known as Fidel Castro's base of operations during the Cuban Revolutionary War. High in the Sierra is Comandancia De La Plata, the secret mountain hideout of Castro and Che Guevara, used for planning the Revolutionary war in the 1950's and as the base of Radio Rebelde which provided information for the revolutionaries. We hike to the revolutionary base and may have time to bathe in the Yara River. After lunch we continue to Camaguey where we'll spend the night. After almost continuous attacks from pirates the original city (founded as Santa Maria del Puerto del Principe around 1515 on the northern coast) was moved inland in 1528. The new city was built with a confusing lay-out of winding alleys that made it easier to defend from raiders.

    Today's driving time is approx. 5 hours.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Camaguey sightseeing; city tour of Trinidad.

    This morning there will be time to explore this historic city, characterised more recently by 'tinajones' - large, earthen jugs found in the squares, churches and gardens that were originally used to store water during drought periods. We then continue to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and perhaps the best-preserved colonial town on the island. Exploring Trinidad is like stepping back in time, the cobbled streets and horse drawn transportation whisks you back to colonial times. There are many interesting museums housed in old colonial buildings to visit in the daytime, but it is as the sun sets that Trinidad really comes alive. This evening we recommend a visit to Casa de la Trova for traditional Cuban music and dancing!

    Today's driving time is approx. 5 hours.

    Casa

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    Free day in Trinidad.

    Today is free to continue your exploration of Trinidad and its surroundings or simply spend the day relaxing.

    Casa

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    'El Cubano' Nature Park; walk through tropical forest to waterfall; visit Cienfuegos.

    After breakfast we set off for ‘El Cubano’ Nature Park, a reserve nestled in countryside on the outskirts of Trinidad. We’ll walk through tropical forest to reach a waterfall where we can stop to take a refreshing dip. We then carry on to colonial Cienfuegos where we have a city tour of the main plazas and spend the night. Casas may be located in the town centre or close to the coastal road.

    Today's driving time is approx. 1.5 hours.

    Casa

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Visit Bay of Pigs; to Havana.

    Today we visit the Bay of Pigs, site of the attempted US invasion in 1961 and drive through the Zapata Peninsula back to Havana. We visit the museum at Playa Giron and stop for lunch and to swim at Caleta Buena, a protected cove that is great for snorkelling. On arrival in Havana we have a short walking tour of Old Havana's plazas before checking into your hotel.

    Today's driving time is approx. 3.5 - 4 hours.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Free day in Havana; or optional day trip to Vinales Valley.

    Today is free for you to explore Havana or take an optional day trip to Vinales. The Vinales Valley is filled with palm trees and tobacco farms, traditional farming methods are still used amid some of the most impressive scenery in Cuba. Huge limestone karsts (sheer-sided, flat-topped hills) rise from the valley floor, riddled with caves and covered in forest. In the evening there is an optional trip to the famous Tropicana Nightclub in Havana.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Lunch at the Bodeguita del Medio; End Havana.

    This morning you have free time to enjoy Havana, Cuba's capital and the largest city in the Caribbean. This is a busy and bustling, energetic capital. Old Havana is often described as a living museum with its marvellous monuments, cathedrals and palaces. It is the finest surviving Spanish colonial complex in the Americas, preserved by a combination of minimal war damage, post Revolution restoration work and the millions of dollars invested since it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Those on group flights will be transferred back to the airport this afternoon.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Cuba

British and most Western European passport holders do not require a visa but do require a tourist card. Your Cuban tourist card (valid for 30 days) is included and will be posted to you by Exodus approx. 4 weeks before travel. We will send instructions on how to fill it in but please be careful doing this as any mistakes may result in you having to purchase a new card at a cost of GBP15.00 per person.

We will send a tourist card free of charge as long as you live at a UK or Ireland address and are national of an EU country, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Japan. If you are not national of one of these countries or are not resident in the UK or Eire you must contact your nearest Cuban Consulate to check what visa is required - Exodus cannot provide a tourist card for you.

The Cuban entry immigration is time consuming and most visitors encounter delays when queuing for entry into the country.

The Cuban Government passed a law stating that all tourists visiting Cuba must have travel insurance to cover medical costs. You are likely to be asked to provide proof of your travel insurance policy when you arrive at Havana airport, so please ensure your documents are easily accessible. Whilst we hope that things will change in the near future, due to present US policy, we cannot take US citizens on our trips to Cuba.

Vaccinations

Cuba

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Hepatitis A. We are advised that there is no risk of malaria. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. For the latest information please visit www.exodus.co.uk/zika‐virus‐q‐a. The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up‐to‐date information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 3 dinners included.

Cuba is not renowned for its culinary excellence and some ingredients are just not possible to get hold of (due in no small part to the long trade embargo implemented by the US). As such, flavours tend to be relatively simple, with most mealtimes consisting of meat or fish accompanied by rice and salad/vegetables. Seafood is widely available on the coast, including cheap and abundant lobster! Vegetarians will probably find they have the most limited choice. Snack food is not freely available in Cuba so you may wish to consider taking some with you.

Paladares are likely to be a highlight of any visit to Cuba - they are one of the few types of private enterprise allowed (although still heavily regulated), where families can set up a restaurant selling authentic, Cuban food. The atmosphere this creates, and opportunity to integrate with local Cubans, will no doubt enhance your stay!

Weather

The dry season runs from November through to April (with December to March being the peak holiday months for traditional style tourism). It can be humid between May and October, with heavy rains at times and the possibility of hurricanes. July and August are some of the most popular months to visit Cuba by sun-seekers from Europe and Canada but can be hot (average 28ºC) and wet. Cuba has an average of 6 hours sunshine per day with a more or less constant humidity of 62%. Water temperature normally ranges from 24ºC to 28ºC.

Havana

Trinidad

Is this trip for you?

This is a busy itinerary as we cover the full length of the island, but we do so in the comfort of a private air-conditioned coach or minibus. There are some long journeys, particularly during the first few days of the itinerary, the longest being on Day 3 (approx. 7 hours) and Day 4 (approx. 5 hours). The driving is broken up as much as possible with rest stops, and our wonderful Cuban tour leaders use this time to talk about everything and anything relating to their country! There are several two-night stays with free time built in to the trip itinerary in order to relax. The aim of the trip is to show you as much of the island as possible so some driving is inevitable, particularly as we don't agree with using internal flights in Cuba.

If travelling in the months of May - August then please be prepared for very hot and humid conditions.

Please be aware that mobile networks don’t make or receive calls particularly well in Cuba, and coverage may not be available in many locations. Not all networks work in Cuba, so please check with your service provider. Also please note that few hotels have Wi-Fi. Some will have internet cafés, and you will also find some Wi-Fi spots in the main plazas in towns. Using the internet in Cuba is relatively expensive, up to 5-6 CUC per hour, unless you purchase Wi-Fi cards at official shops, but these will always have long queues. Wi-Fi can be very slow, so it’s best to assume that you won’t be able to find a reliable internet connection whilst travelling.

A limited tourism infrastructure on the island means that some hotels and other service providers are struggling to honour their agreements. Last minute overbookings and price increases are becoming commonplace.

Fortunately, over the years we have built strong working relationships with suppliers and we have managed to prevent any major problems from affecting our groups. Nevertheless, all travellers should be aware that last minute hotel cancellations are a possibility and could affect your trip, especially during the high season in Havana (Oct to March). In the event of any necessary changes we will endeavour to ensure a property of the same standard and similar location is used. On some occasions an overnight hotel stay may be replaced with a night in a casa, or vice versa.

In addition to being prepared for potential last minute hotel changes, it is possible that you will be confronted by other minor frustrations whilst travelling in Cuba. We encourage all travellers to go with an open mind, and with realistic expectations at what a visit to Cuba entails. If your guide announces a change of plans then please be assured that everything possible has been done behind the scenes in order to make satisfactory alternative arrangements.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and Casas Particulares

You will spend 11 nights hotels (2 nights in Old Havana) and 3 nights in privately-run B&B style 'Casas Particulares'. 

For the majority of the trip we will stay in standard hotels, with en suite bathrooms. We use standard hotels that range from 3 star equivalents to simple guesthouses. Rooms are on a twin-share basis, with air-conditioning and en suite bathrooms. Some of the hotels will have swimming pools. You should be aware that occasional power cuts occur and hot water supplies are not always guaranteed.

Casas Particulares - All of our Cuban itineraries include staying in privately-run 'Casas Particulares' in at least one destination as an alternative to staying in standard hotels. These are traditional Cuban properties that have been renovated into guesthouses. All rooms have en suite bathrooms, hot and cold water, either a fan or air-conditioning, and breakfast is included. Water pressure can be temperamental, and decor is variable! The houses that we use will be in close vicinity whenever possible, and we do our best to ensure that those in single room accommodation are always within a house where other Exodus clients are staying. However this cannot be guaranteed in all cases.

All properties that we use have been inspected and assessed by our local operator in Cuba. Some are large multi-room houses that are home to entire families, others are run by individuals, and in some cases the owners live elsewhere.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

, Antarctica, Arctic, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Dolomites, Germany, Greece, Iceland, North America, Norway, Patagonia, Russia, Spitsbergen, USA
Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2017
    Jennifer Pitkin

    Cuba La Grande Isla*

    This was my third Exodus trip and was as well planned and as immensely enjoyable as the others. It was a great taste of the whole island, encompassing its history, architecture, culture and natural beauty.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    These were many and varied: trekking up to Fidel's hideout in the mountains, riding in vintage cars in Havana, swimming in turquoise seas, dancing to the Salsa beat

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Freddy was excellent, you couldn't ask for a better guide. He was extremely informative, a great communicator, funny and charming. He made Cuba's recent history come alive with his anecdotes about his own family. His knowledge of flora and fauna was very impressive and his commitment to Cuba and conservation shone through everything. He was also extremely well organised, everything ran smoothly and you could rely on his arrangements.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A great trip, I enjoyed every minute. There is a lot of travelling and the first couple of days were mainly driving. I enjoy this and was happy to look at the scenery and hear about Cuba from our guide. But if you don't like coach travel this may be difficult.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Looking forward to my next Exodus adventure...!
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Nicholas Childs

    Fascinating insight into Cuba

    A great way to see the whole of Cuba. The tour guide talked about Cuban life, history, culture, whilst giving us cocktails on the very long days in the coach that made the day's fly by. Excellent hotels, food a lot better than the Trip Notes (I'm vegetarian) and a thoroughly enjoyable holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sierra Maestra, where Castro hid in the mountain with his followers. Amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex Baraja - legend. Knowledgeable, witty, organised and had a DVD of music, videos and documentaries to keep us occupied on the whole of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I spent £600 on this trip as spending money. Spend a few days longer in Havana before/after. Take advantage of the water on the coach and drink a bottle per day per person minimum. Try everything at least once (twice just to be sure you don't like it). Buy a money belt. Ensure you have enough cash and small notes at each major city.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Trip Notes need some revising. No longer CUC25 to leave the Airport. Etc.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Leslie Adkins

    La Isla Grande (AUB)

    A two-week, whistlestop tour of the island from top to bottom and back. Interesting, exciting, and enjoyable... but with a lot of time spent on the bus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everyday in Cuba, I encountered expert musicians, talented dancers, and endless rum cocktails: the passion for an easygoing, fulfilled life that is exuded by seemingly all Cubans, is truly inspirational. Getting drunk with the locals in the best music bar in Havana was a highlight, but there were many more: swimming under a waterfall, trekking to Fidel's mountain hideaway, snorkelling in the Bay of Pigs, riding around town in a pink convertible Chevrolet classic; as well as regular 'escapes' from the group in search of alternative eating and drinking venues. A diversity of landscape, abundant cultural opportunities, hospital locals and a rich history: this trip keeps you busy.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ichael was a true gentleman. He was knowledgeable, professional, and passionate about his country. Always responsive to the needs of the group, his willingness to accommodate requests and answer questions was remarkable!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be warned that there is a lot of driving on this trip. And be prepared to spend more money than you expect; apart from cocktails and souvenirs, Cuba is no cheaper for tourists than Western Europe.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was pretty apparent that Exodus plan this trip meticulously and expect tour leaders to follow it to the letter. I was annoyed about this on a few occasions because our tour leader had the knowledge and experience to make small deviations and suggest alternatives that would have suited our group, but it is evident that deviation from the script is not tolerated. Example: We stopped for one hour at an ubiquitous roadside cafe/bar after having just driven through an interesting and historic town without stopping. Why on Earth couldn't we have spent the hour in town???
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Nicola Jones

    Hasta La Victoria Siempre

    Cuba has been on my "must visit" list for ages. It did not disappoint. I knew the best way to experience this intriguing country was by escorted group tour. I arranged my own flights and joined the ,sold out tour, group in Havana. I have travelled a lot in my time, so along with the trip notes & guide books, I knew not to have great expectations - other than to see, learn and enjoy a new experience. One of the first things our guide said to us was "expect the unexpected, have an open mind" and quite frankly that is how one should travel anyway. I therefore have no complaints. Cuba is beautiful, lots of history and yet stuck in a time-warp. the people friendly and welcoming. We had a good mix of accommodation, 2 hotel changes - our arrival hotel (for which we didn't know about until landing & as I was not on group flight, this info was not v well conveyed at the office in airport, so I insisted on going to original hotel, which thankfully was around the corner from right one, but late at night was not fun walking round) All rooms were clean, had a/c, v comfy beds. One hotel some had scolding showers, us others cold, but there was water so i could shower & wash my hair so no complaints from me. It was lovely to stay with locals for 3 nights in casa particulares. We returned to one hotel after the one in Sierra Maestra double booked, so we had another long travel day the next day consequently. Melia Santiago de Cuba (Spanish chain) was the plushest hotel, Food is usually bland - surprising given the amount of onion & garlic at markets, but I was never hungry, lots of fresh fruit, amazing seafood, Baracoa had the best flavours, and Casa Paladares the best food. In a nation where ration books still exist, one shouldn't complain about the food served! Service is slow, - no problem of an evening, but frustrating at breakfast time. The first 3 days of travelling are tough, especially following a 10hr flight. yes there are breaks etc, but it is still tough & folks got the lurgy. Our guide played some great films about Cuban history. We stopped off at some lovely places for lunch, twice at v picturesque quiet beach locations. I booked an extra night in Havana so that I could have more time to explore this beautiful city. I would recommend doing this. I just wish I had been there longer, so am looking forward to returning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved every aspect of this trip. There is lot to see, learn and take in. We did not do the Vinales trip - I'd already decided not to do this, simply due to the long travelling time (really did not want to spend any more time on a bus at the end of a trip), By not doing this trip, we all then had a great day in Havana, sight seeing in 1950s cars, coco-taxis, the Rum factory, lunch, a visit to a Cigar factory (that alas we didn't see as an American group did a back-hander and "stole" the tour guide much to everyone's annoyance) so we went to the Chocolate museum instead, plus an evening at Buena Vista Social Club. we all felt that this was an excellent way to end our group trip. Using the local horse & carts, and bici-taxis; therefore we got to see more of town-life and the looks on the locals was priceless, they simply had not seen this before. It was wonderful, plus putting money directly into the local economy. Go to Casa de la Trovas, watch, dance, enjoy, have a salsa lesson.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Group Leader was Laz. He is a great tour leader, Speaks excellent English, v approachable, got on well with all in the group, has a fab sense of humour (which went down well with us Brits (& Aussies too) extremely knowledgeable, willing to talk about his country. Full of suggestions / recommendations, eg instead of a walking tour, to use the horse & cart or bici-taxis, Always our decision, never pressured into doing anything. He was on back-to-back tours, so hopefully he'll get a deserved break v soon! Junior, our driver, was excellent too. Although spoke little English, he was attentive, polite and friendly. Drove very carefully and kept a clean bus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Have an open mind and you wont be disappointed. Take cash (sterling or euros) - I used my debit card once at ATM in Havana, but learnt I was charged £6 in total for doing so (my fault for being lazy & not going to a cadeca!). The exchange rate will be the same wherever you are as it is state-operated. Cuba is not cheap (but I wouldn't say that expensive). local drinks are always the cheapest. I was expecting long queues at customs / immigration on arrival. I had photocopies of all my docs, and did not need to show these to anyone to get passport stamped. I wasn't asked any questions at all. The airport cadeca is outside & there were long queues. I know that the rest of the group were limited to changing only £200. However this amount lasted a while. To add to the list of items to take with you - a toilet roll. Hotels will provide toilet paper, but public loos wont have. Due to the sewage systems all items are placed into the bins, Often there are no doors, or very short doors covering the essentials! Dont' be alarmed!!! Ladies I would suggest taking nappy bags for your sanitary items.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Have a fantastic trip!!
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Ian Littler

    A long haul but well worth the effort

    This is a very long trip, even longer than the information indicates, but not to be missed. The pre-trip information was poor - the hotel information for the first night was wrong both for us and other travellers. Whilst on-trip hotels may be changed (as the party is together) this should not happen for those joining the trip in Havana - this needs looking at. Altho long, there is not a day that was not filled with inspirational moments - this is not a tour like any other. The leader, the driver and the coach were all first class as was the itinerary; the same could not be said for the hotels. Altho there were some unexpected bonuses such as the Melia in Santiago, the hotels in smaller cities ranged from grotty to liveable with - but I guess that was part of the experience. It should not put you off the tour. Provided (and paid-for) meals were both typically Cuban and varied from adequate to excellent - this again is part of the experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Santiago de Cuba - all the venues we visited but especially the Cemetery and sunset at the El Moro castle.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Yasel Peterssen and he was exceptional. If we enjoyed the Holiday 99% (and we did) his contribution was the pivotal factor.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Open minds and be prepared for both long days and a couple of not very satisfactory hotels in places.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Dorothy Boland

    Cuba:La Isla Grande

    Most fascinating holiday-informative and interesting. A real insight into how Cuba functions and its place in the world. A taste of life in different parts of the island.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    How the Cuban people cope with so few resources and how they 'make do and mend'!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant. Excellent English, very knowledgeable about Cuban history, wildlife, willing to go the extra mile for us as a group, friendly, witty, professional. Couldn't have been better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Come prepared to queue, don't expect European standards of service, or selection of foodstuffs and other goods, be open minded and prepared for inconveniences.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Really enjoyable experience, with only one or two low points-the main one being the accommodation in Sierra Maestre- very poor even by Cuban standards. Otherwise, all fine if you are prepared to 'go with the flow'!
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Mary Hodgson

    Cuba: La Isla Grande

    It was an interesting and varied trip, pretty much as described, apart from 'standard hotel' on the trip notes became 'casa' on two nights' and of the three 'casas' used, two were more like backpacker hostels than private B & Bs.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many - swimming in a river beneath a waterfall, walking to the Castro / Guevara mountain HQ, music everywhere, the river trip and beach at Barracoa, the rooftop rum cocktails in Santiago and Cienfuegos, the museum at the Bay of Pigs.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Freddy is knowledgeable, informative, entertaining, caring and tireless. He also dealt swiftly and efficiently with a medical emergency. He is evidently widely known and loved throughout Cuba.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Whatever you usually take for hangovers, take it with you. There's a shortage of over-the-counter medicaments in Cuba. No need to take diarrhoea tablets - eating guava has the same effect.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Given the background noise of Havana streets, and the near impossibility of trying to explain plans for the following two days to a group of people in the street, all staying in different places, plus an orientation walk in a very short time, it would be helpful if the trip notes included a street map of the part of Havana used for accommodation, showing the main landmarks.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Douglas Smith

    Lovely island and well organised tour

    I travelled with my wife and we both reach 70 this year. Hitherto we have travelled independently through many countries around the world. We have discussed the merits of a small group tour as we get older. We decided on this trip quite late and rather than rush my preparation we decided to trial the Exodus offering. The Exodus itinerary was well laid out but even with this mental preparation we found the amount of coach travel in the first days of the trip quite daunting. Travelling independently we would probably have taken 3 weeks on this itinerary. There was no location that we would have wanted to miss and the tour leader was excellent in outlining the history, politics, economics and geography of each place visited, Often accompanied by a rum punch! The hotels were a mixed bag - we would have been happier with more homestays at the Casa Particulares and thoroughly enjoyed the 2 we visited. Food was middling but far the best was to be found in the small "pop up" restaurants to which our tour leader introduced us. Other members of the party were a mixed bunch and easy to get on with. Even so, where possible we tended to eat independently although the majority were happy to eat as a group. For us, the inevitable downside of group travel was the limitations imposed by timings that required 18 people to gather, travel and do things at broadly the same time. We've learned that we're not quite ready for this type of holiday. But when we are I suspect that it will be Exodus to whom we return.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I'm not sure that we were "inspired" at any stage. We did particularly enjoy discovering the political history of Cuba from a Cuban perspective. In this our tour leader was particularly effective.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Think hard about the balance between the difficulty of arranging independent travel and the inevitable constraints of collective arrangements in a small group.
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Mary Mcdonald

    La Isla Grande

    Enjoyed holiday very much. Had wonderful tour leader who was very informative and fun. Fidel Castro died while we were on trip so music, dancing and alcohol stopped in respect of country in mourning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Personally I loved city of Santiago but the visit to Gran Parque Sierra Maestra walking through mountain range to Fidel's secret hideout was amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I thought he was fantastic as he filled in the history of all our trips and took great care of everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with the flow as food sometimes basic but lovely seafood most places.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All in all very good trip but we missed out on plans as country in mourning. However, had great group of people who made trip fun.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Ruth Battis

    Awesome Cuba 13-27th October 2016

    This was an excellent tour which gave us a tantilising taste of the history, culture & people of the real Cuba. It is a fascinating country and the locals are cheerful & hospitable despite the challenges they face daily. Unfortuately due to the hurricane we were unable to visit Baracoa, however our guide, Jorge, did a wonderful job of juggling housing & sightseeing to accommodate our needs.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many wonderful moments, however the home stays in the Casa Particulares, where we got an insight into the daily life of the humble home owners, was a highlight for me..namely Marina in Trinidad and Lolita at Cienfuegos, who had just received her Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. As was the hike up to Castro's hideout in the Sierra Maestre and the few hours spent swimming at beautiful Caleta Buena on our way back to Havana. An impromptu salsa lesson by Jorge & Junior was hilarious. And I loved Cienfuegos & wish we'd had a extra night there rather than Trinidad.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jorge was fabulous. With an excellent command of English, he was extremely knowledgable and passionate about his country but happy to discuss the more contentious elements of Cuba. He handled the many changes to our itinerary (mainly due to the hurricane) and a couple of 'difficult' moments with one of our travel companions with expertise and aplomb. He interacted well with everyone in our group and had a great sense of humour. Our wonderful coach driver Junior was on hand to help with luggage and we always felt safe with him at the wheel, even after a deluge of rain left causeways flooded, he managed to negotiate the mountains and get us safely to our next destination. Between Jorge and Junior they gave us all a memorable & fun trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take as much money as you think you will need in Euros to exchange on arrival, don't rely on Atm's. Water pressure & hot water is often non existent, toilets are NOT like home (a coin is needed to use the loo and toilet paper only goes in the bin supplied). Australia has no mobile coverage in Cuba and Wifi is sketchy. I purchased a travelsim in Aus for calls only which worked in metropolitan areas. You can purchase a Wifi access card for about 2CUC per hour from ETECSA Telecommunications Centres, then go to designated squares (parks) to log on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't hesitate..Go now! Go with no expectations ...You will not be disappointed! I went as a solo traveller & felt safe at all times even while exploring on my own. Learn a little spanish before you go so you can interact with the locals. I was lucky to join lovely travelling companions .. we were definitely a 'family' (Jorges' word) early into the trip and made my trip so much more memorable. My only negative was the initial nights accommodation at the Hotel Memories Miramar. Bad memories only for this traveller! I arrived late in the night ...Mouldy rank partially lit hallway to my room on the 2nd floor ....the sheets were stained in blood.. little droplets that led me to believe that while the bed had not been changed since its last inhabitants, there was a distinct possibility of bed lice still occupying the room. And, apparently, the receptionist was to have given me my instructions for joining the tour group and so the next morning, with the reception area swarming with tourists, and not having a time or place to meet the rest of my group, I very nearly missed the bus. Only by pure luck did I run into the man who was to be our guide. Please Exodus ... rethink your accommodation options for this hotel ..not a nice introduction to such an amazing country.

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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